‘You want to teach ballet?’ Surprise glinted in his eyes.
He nodded but then frowned again. ‘Why San Felipe? If not to taunt Salvatore?’
‘I came for some holidays here with my mother. She had another friend here, for a time.’ She knew he’d understand she meant another lover. ‘I always loved it here. The beaches are beautiful, the city old and majestic.’ She shrugged with a soft smile. ‘You know it has a magic about it.’
‘And your mother’s friend?’
‘The relationship didn’t last, of course. He passed away a few years ago.’ She sighed. ‘So there you have it, why I’m here. It’s not that exciting at all, you see.’
Silent, he ran his fingers along her scarred shin as if he could somehow smooth it away. ‘Why did you never ask for an investigation or press charges?’
‘About the glass?’ She faltered, but then pressed on. She’d worked hard to reconcile her decision. ‘I didn’t want them to see how much they’d hurt me. They’d win if they saw that. I’ll never let them see how much they got to me,’ she said in a low tone, keeping her head high.
‘You’re not bulletproof,’ he said.
‘It doesn’t matter.’ She tried to shrug it off.
‘It matters immensely. You had the thing you love most stolen from you. You were stolen from us—the audience.’
She smiled softly at his support of her. ‘It just is what it is. I’ve accepted it and I’m moving on. I’m a survivor.’ She was determined, and proud to be.
The sun had vanished but now the stars had come out to shine. And the moonlight glittered over the water. He fetched one of the blankets that were folded on one of the sofas and brought it back to where she was nestled in the cushions.
He paused at the solitary candle flickering on the low table. ‘You want to stay out here with me tonight?’
She nodded and watched him blow the candle out.
The dreadful thing was she’d stay with him wherever he asked, for as long as he wanted. Yes, she was falling for him, but she also agreed because he shouldn’t be out here alone.
He’d been on the front page of today’s paper, standing in the hospital garden that honoured Alessia. In his midnight-blue suit with his pale, emotionless eyes he’d looked so isolated. She wished he wouldn’t shut himself away so completely. She wished he’d open up like this even more. There was a warm, funny, compassionate guy locked away in there and someone—never her—should help him be happy.
He should be happy.
But she wasn’t the woman who could make that happen for him. She was the woman who had him only for now.
SHE WAS WOKEN with a kiss. She smiled—how could she not when he looked at her like that? He was tousled and stubbled and tired about the eyes and so very sexy.
She’d told herself she wasn’t going to sleep at all during their night on deck under the stars, but he’d teased her so long and made her come so hard her body had waved the white flag not long before dawn.
‘What time is it?’ she asked him.
‘Stupidly early,’ he admitted apologetically. ‘But there’s something I wanted you to see.’
Holding the soft blanket to her, she sat up on the deck and realised he was in nothing but swimming trunks and a life jacket and was dangling a bikini from his hand.
‘You think I’m going to wear that?’
‘Or just the life jacket, I don’t mind.’
She snatched the bikini from his hand and wriggled into it as he laughed.
The sky was pale blue from the first fingers of sunlight, the ocean still and beautiful and fresh and nothing could mar its beauty. She snuggled against his waist as he rode the jet ski, laughing at his show of speed and control. But he suddenly slowed right down and all but cut the engine. Then she saw what was swimming towards them in a joyous streak of energy.
‘Dolphins,’ she breathed.
‘A whole pod.’ He nodded, turning to see her face. ‘They’re often out this way to feed.’
And play. The creatures leapt and somersaulted as if it were the dolphin Olympics.
‘There are hundreds of them.’ She laughed in delighted awe. She’d never seen anything as beautiful or exhilarating in her life.